LAS VEGAS (Nov. 22, 2016) — Bosch Automotive Service Solutions' OTC Tools brand celebrated its 91st anniversary at the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas with a custom OTC-branded 1930s era Ford delivery truck, designed in cooperation with Atlanta-based Fuller Moto.
Founded in 1925 by Reuben Kaplan, OTC Tools — then known as the Owatonna Tool Co., named after its birthplace of Owatonna, Minn., where the brand is still based — initially developed vehicle maintenances tools for the OE market. In 1935, the company began its gravitation toward the aftermarket by selling tools out of panel tool trucks to automotive service technicians.
This year, OTC partnered with fabricator and custom vehicle builder Bryan Fuller, owner of Fuller Moto to commemorate the trucks that helped pave the way for the company's success with the conversion of a 1934 Sedan Delivery Ford into a modern tool truck to be displayed at SEMA. It marked the first time OTC had a dedicated booth at the show.
"It's really hard to find a truck (from the era), and man we got a beautiful one with this body," Mr. Fuller told Tire Business. "It barely had a dent or a pinhole. It's amazing."
According to OTC, the truck was completely restructured with a rebuilt chassis and engine, new electrical systems and extensive body work. The entire project was completed exclusively with OTC-brand tools and products. A YouTube video of the rebuild process can be found here.
While OTC has since branched out from its roots in mobile tool distribution, the commitment to the specialty tools market has remained a core tenet of the brand, said Alison Accavitti, marketing communications manager, OTC Tools.
"We might not be a mobile distributor now, but our legacy, our history starts there with special tools, so it's kind of a throwback to that history of the brand," she told Tire Business. "OTC tools also are sold off the truck, too, nowadays, so it's also a nod to (the fact) that you can buy OTC tools through distribution, you can buy them off the truck and you can buy them through retailers."
Many of the tools OTC makes today are direct descendents of the same specialty tools — pullers, frames, hub grapplers, U-joint bars, etc. — that drove its early success, along with diagnostic tools and shop equipment, more modern additions to its product portfolio. Some of the brand's earliest part numbers are still manufactured today, Ms. Accavitti said.
"Of all the brands in the Bosch Automotive Service Solutions portfolio, OTC is my favorite because I think it has such a great personality," she said. "It's a working brand, it's a mechanical brand, but it's also evolved to be this electrified brand with the diagnostics. The team at Owatonna — whether that's the factory or the product team or the engineering team — they're hardworking, authentic people."
Ms. Accavitti said one of the biggest challenges for OTC moving forward is keeping up with increased vehicle complexity in today's market, but she added that the brand is in a favorable position.
"One of the things we continue to be comfortable with, even with all that complexity, is you still need mechanical tools for a wide variety of jobs," Ms. Accavitti said. "So that's kind of been a foundation point for OTC.
"…From our little service perspective, we're certainly keeping up with the trends on vehicle complexity, but Bosch as a whole is so much a part of the future of vehicles," she continued. "Getting into automation for example, I think OTC being a part of the Bosch brand portfolio really enables us to be on top of all vehicle trends."